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Culture Warrior

Amongst the many reactions to Steve Jobs’s death last week, I found one comparison that people drew to be quite compelling. In order to find a fitting historic analogy to illustrate the cultural significance of Jobs’s life, comparisons ran the gamut from Nikola Tesla to, erm, John Lennon (“think different,” I guess?). But several people, including, Roger Ebert, brought to light continuities with Thomas Edison. Edison, like Jobs, was an industrialist: part inventor, mostly capitalist. But specific to his own life, Edison spent most of his career securing patents and making improvements to existing technologies rather than building something from scratch. Edison’s reputation associates him with a great deal more invention than he was actually involved in. I’m not trying to be cynical about Jobs. Far from it. In fact, I’ve been more than a little annoyed with the backlash to consumer mourning about Jobs than any initial hyperbole associated with Jobs’s death in the first place. I don’t give a flying shit about executives in pretty much any industry, but saying “he’s just a CEO” does not negate the great intellectual worth and cultural interest of Jobs himself. Jobs, like Edison, developed a cult of personality that extended well beyond the person.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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